Price paid: C$ 600
Purchased from: LA Music
Sound — 7
I play a lot of metal which is what I bought this guitar for. The stock pickups sound decent at lower volumes, when played through my dual rec the tones they produced were flat out unacceptable, noisy and muddy and lacking in tonality when playing leads. I replaced the stock bridge pup for a Duncan Invader (first time using Invader) and was still unimpressed. I may opt to go for active EMG's are DiMarzio's. However the acoustic sound produced when unplugged is something I always look for in a new guitar, and this one did not fall short, probably due to string and neck through design and for this I raised the rating number in this category, because I think with good pickups this would be an excellent axe.
Overall Impression — 8
Like I said I bought this guitar to play metal and I've been playing for 14 years. I really like ESP/LTD guitars, but I have several complaints as well, I do not like how close the volume knob is in proximity to the bridge pickup, because when playing live my hand hits and rolls the volume down. Since buying this guitar I have also gotten a EC-500, where this volume knob problem is not an issue, and the tone of that guitar absolutely destroys this one, the combo of Mahogany and EMG 81/60's is just fantastic. Transversally the shorter scale on the EC-500 isn't ideal as I have hands that are quite large and it gets a bit tight after the 15th fret. But when it boils down to it I'd take the EC-500 over this one any day. If this guitar was stolen I would probably go the extra mile and buy a model like this with a mahogany body, or not, seeing as the EC-500 is pretty fantastic. I actually might end up selling this guitar and going with a more upscale LTD, or an Ibanez For the price this guitar is really quite good, you'd be hard pressed to find a neck thru guitar that looks this good at such a low price, and it's light weight does make it a good option for live playing. With some upgrades this guitar will make a solid axe for most players.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I bought this guitar to replace an old H-250 I owned that was destroyed. IMO it is not as nice as that guitar was, and it ended up being a backup to my LTD KH-202. I did end up having to play an entire gig with this guitar one night though and it held its tuning quite well and could easily withstand regular gigging and usage.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The factory setup was fine, very playable, finish was quite nice and it plays very comfortably, I did set it up with 11-52 gauge in D Standard a little while later which this guitar handled well. The guitar has no flaws but the hardware will probably need to be replaced down the road, but we're talking a few years down the road.
Features — 8
I bought this guitar in 2006 and would assume it was a model from that year. Some of the key features are 24 frets, Neck through, agathis body w/ maple neck, quilted maple top, string thru, with 1 volume and 1 tone knob, and EMG passive pups and a coil tap.